Morrison incorporates older African-American media into her narrative, among which the Narrative of Frederick Douglass (Werrlein 53). By featuring mainly female characters in The Bluest Eye Morrison both stands on the shoulders of a giant and brings something different to the table. By referencing to Douglass Morrison is able to show the female perspective of Â lives which are left behind due to the colour of their skin. In the protagonist of The Narrative of Frederick Douglass a sense of self-realization out of slavery and a gleam of the American Dream can be found. However, in The Bluest Eye’s protagonists mostly lingers hopelessness, conformation, passivity and anger.
In The Narrative the protagonist focuses on escaping enslavement and learning to read to become a free man, and one might expect the women in The Bluest Eye to incorporate a similar proactive stance in life – since in both books the characters are lagging behind socially and economically. The women in The Bluest Eye don’t really focus on bettering their situations. If the essence of this contrast didn’t find its roots in gender it could have found its origin in race; but since both The Narrative and The Bluest Eye have Afro-American protagonists this cannot be the case.
Morrison uses remediation to assert her expectations of the role of race in economic and social division. Morrison places her characters’ economic and social situations contrastive to childhoods that thrive in families that defy depression-era hardships with economic and social stability, which are shown in Dick and Jane (Werrstein 54). Adding to this are the facts that the simplicity from the Dick and Jane primers is contrasted with the relative complexity of the main narratives and that Morisson was of the same race as the main characters in The Bluest Eye; together these facts cumulate and provides sharp social commentary. The author is not ‘dead’; she is very much alive.
In The Bluest Eye Morisson sets the stage in order for readers to infer the ‘American truth’ for which she was awarded a Nobel prize. The truths of her main characters are of latent social and economic attitudes and circumstances respectively. They might be latent because unlike in The Narrative of Frederick Douglass the characters do not try to improve their situations, regardless of their gender or race. The ‘American dream’ becomes unattainable if one does not try or does not believe in that dream.
Werrlein, Debra T. “Not so Fast, Dick and Jane: Reimagining Childhood and Nation in the Bluest Eye”. MELUS, Vol. 30, No. 4, 53-72, Oxford University Press.